The author at the Lorient U-boat bunker base
Enter the unknown, unchanged U-boat command center
UNCHANGED ST NAZAIRE PENS IN 1999
U-552 entering ‘box’ 12B at St. Nazaire with 4 victory flags flying bases had full ‘fangrost’ defenses, others didn’t.
U-203 (above), first to enter St. Nazaire. The enormous size of only this small section is shown by comparing the welcoming throng on the ‘fangrost’ roof with the pen structure. Some bases had full ‘fangrost’ defenses, others didn’t.
Interior of a pen at St. Nazaire in May 1945. One of the last from a fleet of 1,100 U-boats.
Top layer of 7- section, 25 foot “Fangrost” defense system at St. Nazaire (author’s collection).
The bomb absorbing chamber below the topmost section (see diagram). Here, the top layer, or “fangrost” has not been installed, resulting in the explosion chamber being exposed to bombs. Some roof portions had the topmost layer, others didn’t. Those with the complete system were invulnerable to bomb damage.
A B17G AND COCKPIT SIMILAR TO LT. EDWARD J. HENNESSY’S BOMBER
Wolf pack command at Kerneval. Admiral Donitz’ specially constructed 10,000 sq. ft. bunker was behind the wood trellis in the left photo. He welcomed returning U-boats or waved to departing ones from the bunker’s terraced roof. The Lorient base is directly across the Scorff River and clearly visible from the chateau. In 1999 the author was one of the few journalists allowed entry into the unchanged and still unknown U-boat command center. The chateau is otherwise “off-limits.”
IN THEN AND NOW COMPARISON PHOTOS, THE ADMIRAL’S DOG ‘WOLF’ AWAITS THE MASTER ON THE CHATEAU STEPS.
PART OF THE COLUMNED FOYER AT U-BOAT COMMAND. THE DOOR LEADS TO THE SMALL OFFICE WHERE ADMIRAL DONITZ INTERVIEWED AND UNREMITTINGLY QUESTIONED RETURNING U-BOAT CAPTAINS. THE AUTHOR IS IN THE FOYER AT Bdu COMMAND.
ALTHOUGH SOME SECTIONS HAD MINOR DAMAGE FROM HUNDREDS OF ALLIED BOMBINGS, TODAY, EACH BUNKER PEN AND ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT SEEM ALMOST OPERABLE. THE FRENCH NAVY USED THE SAME BASES FOR THEIR NUCLEAR NAVY UNTIL DEPARTING THE SAME DAY MOST OF THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN. (Below) THE LINE MARKS THE CONNING TOWER CENTER LOCATION WHEN DOCKING.
Tours conducted by
author and historian
Jerome M. O’Connor
Enter the unknown, unchanged U-boat command center.
Lorient dedication plaque 20 Dec 1941.
Adm. Donitz inspection of workers at K1 opening.
15,000 Wehrmacht guarded only this one base.
In view of the great secrecy in which they operated, one would assume that merely locating much less actually entering one or more of the fabled French U-boat bunker bases would require much advance planning and more than good luck. (For decades two of the bases had been French Navy nuclear submarine installations.) However, entering and exploring the bases was easily accomplished.